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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, Joe here, from Pro Painting on Long Island.

I just had an estimate for a ton of trim work, mostly old wood + doors, all along their 5,000+ sq ft home here in NY. Well, the estimate came to a whopping $25K and it would probably take at least 2 weeks with a 2-3 man crew, to finish it all. There is a TON of prep work required to get it ready for any sort of paint.

As much as I expected to be on the high end of the estimates, I was SHOCKED when I found out some guy said he could do it all for $4500!!

Now I have been undercut before and am rarely the cheapest solution but I have never been priced out so drastically and made sure he was comparing apples to apples. Well, he claims they were going to do all the same things I discussed; guarantees, good quality paint, etc but I am just baffled at how low this came in. I told him to be a bit leery of anything that drastic but he said the two other estimates he got were both below $5K.

Has anything like this happened to you guys? Where you're that much higher than the competition? I've redone the estimate few times and even with massive discounts, I can barely even get the material costs to be under $3K. I realize that I'm not going to win this job, so it's water under the bridge but I'm curious if this has happens a lot
 

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I'll likely not be able to help much just b/c I've always worked as someone else's employee, so always had the luxury of letting someone else have the bidding and associated headaches.

A couple of thoughts though.

- 5,000sqft house of old wood work on Long Island? If done properly, $25K doesn't surprise me so much. It's an expensive area, for one, and I assume that you are correct that tons of prep is in order. And in the end, it's a 5K sq ft house on Long Island. Needs to be right. Tho' if you said others came in at maybe half that or so (?), I'd also not be all that surprised. Less than $5K? My B.S. meters are going.

  • BS guess 1: the HO. Making stuff up after being shocked at $25K.
  • BS guess 2: some fly by night pseudo-contractor who will just go in, dust it all off, and slap a coat of something or other on it.

And afterall, I grew up just upstate of NYC (Hudson Valley), and up there we all knew that people from Long Island weren't to be trusted. ;)
 

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Possible scenarios: yes, they were shocked by your bid and sought out a few more for comparisons. Those bids may have been less but the owner doesn’t want to go with them for whatever reason. Their bid is lower because they are recommending less prep, lower quality products, etc. Or, one of the two previous scenarios exist except the other bids are higher than yours. Regardless, I would tend to agree with Joe that the HO knows you would be the rest choice to do the work but is hoping to lure you into dropping your numbers.

Don’t bite. There will always be someone willing to do a job for less money. If you are good with your recommended plan for this job, and likewise with your numbers, then stick to your guns. If some other idiot wishes to give his work away, or the HO feels bucks are more important than a quality job, then wish them luck and move on. Who knows, they may come crawling back to you in a few months willing to pay anything to have you come back and take over. Then you can have the satisfaction of telling them no because you are booked up, or, you can make some decent change while rescuing them and fixing the mess the previous guy made.
 

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I think you are way to low, but that's me here is CA where we don't have nearly the trim as you east coast guys.

Don't sweat it!! If this person is really going with the lowest price, you don't want this job anyway. I know it is slow, but do not lower your price. I have this discussion all the time with other trades and painters. If you bid low and only cover your cost or worse, lose money, you can't make this up on another job.

I had a good client buy a new house, probably got in over their heads with how much work it needed. My bid was 65k for all walls, base, cabinets in nine locations, crown, columns, windows, doors, etc. I got beat out by half and on the guys bid sheet it said $2500 for cabinets!! My costs alone were that for 2k poly. But whatever, I am glad I didn't get it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'll likely not be able to help much just b/c I've always worked as someone else's employee, so always had the luxury of letting someone else have the bidding and associated headaches.

A couple of thoughts though.

- 5,000sqft house of old wood work on Long Island? If done properly, $25K doesn't surprise me so much. It's an expensive area, for one, and I assume that you are correct that tons of prep is in order. And in the end, it's a 5K sq ft house on Long Island. Needs to be right. Tho' if you said others came in at maybe half that or so (?), I'd also not be all that surprised. Less than $5K? My B.S. meters are going.

  • BS guess 1: the HO. Making stuff up after being shocked at $25K.
  • BS guess 2: some fly by night pseudo-contractor who will just go in, dust it all off, and slap a coat of something or other on it.

And afterall, I grew up just upstate of NYC (Hudson Valley), and up there we all knew that people from Long Island weren't to be trusted. ;)
I really had a nice rapport going with the guy and his mother in a beautiful home so I don't think he was making anything up. I'm going with some "Chuck in a truck" going super lowball and literally making no money on this deal as I saw just the prep being over 40 hours.
 

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$4500 is total BS or a scam. Guy probably wants half up front. Materials alone would be close to $3500 if you gotta cover floors as well. Think 25k is probably a little high but not by much and hard to tell without seeing it but 0 chance anyone who is a professional can do that job for less than 18k.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I guess I'm more annoyed at the fact that these clowns are pulling EVERYONES bids down now. There is no way I can compete with these rates even with the "you pay for what you get" spiels I typically use. It usually evens out once Spring is here but when it's slow, guys are really lowballing and probably barely making any money.
 

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I guess I'm more annoyed at the fact that these clowns are pulling EVERYONES bids down now. There is no way I can compete with these rates even with the "you pay for what you get" spiels I typically use. It usually evens out once Spring is here but when it's slow, guys are really lowballing and probably barely making any money.
25k for two weeks of work? What’s the breakdown on that?

If two employees get paid $2k/week each (@ $50/hr for 40 hours):
$8k for employees
$3500 for materials (seems high for trim).
$13k for the company (less tax responsibilities, fees, insurance, etc…)

Not unreasonable, but can see how one could be underbid in this market by the smaller outfits with low overhead.

As soon as a potential client starts telling me what others painters bid, or worse, tries to negotiate with it, usually doesn’t end well anyway.
 

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I guess I'm more annoyed at the fact that these clowns are pulling EVERYONES bids down now. There is no way I can compete with these rates even with the "you pay for what you get" spiels I typically use. It usually evens out once Spring is here but when it's slow, guys are really lowballing and probably barely making any money.
That feeling is one that has been shared a lot on PT over the years. As a group, painters who under bid, often ridiculously so, and then do a piss poor job either out of ignorance or intentionally, do a huge amount of damage to the “good” outfits out there. Not only by dragging prices down, but by also dragging down the reputation of all of us that are in the trade.

That is why I always made an effort to look and act like a professional; clean (not the same as paint free) company Ts and whites, being on time and appropriately dressed for bids, being meticulous in my bid presentation and with my contracts and record keeping, communicating clearly and often, responding calmly to any issues that might come up, plus maintaining a neat and safe work site. I learned early on that if I wanted others to take me seriously, then I needed to first take myself and what I did seriously.
 

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Hard to tell by sq. Ft pricing on trim. Lineal footage pricing would be the only way. Could be $2.00-5.00/lin. Ft. Depending on what's required..And how much actual trim there is!
 
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